American hunter kills black bear on video with a spear, sparking backlash from animal advocates

The provincial government of Alberta says it is now planning to ban spear hunting later this year

Feliks Garcia
New York
Tuesday 16 August 2016 15:05 BST
Bear speared and killed

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Louise Thomas

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An American hunter has been condemned for posting a video online that shows home killing a Canadian bear with a spear.

Josh Bowman is seen felling the animal and then dancing in joy.

Mr Bowmar, a big game hunter who runs a fitness company in Ohio with his wife, Sarah, published the video on his YouTube channel in June, and has been since been the target of fierce criticism for his exploits in the Alberta wilderness.

The backlash to the video comes after the killings of a Cincinnati Zoo gorilla, Harambe, and Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe sparked massive protests against the shooters.

In the video, filmed in May, Mr Bowmar drew the bear into a clearing in the woods with a barrel of bait. The video suggests he waited for hours for the perfect opportunity to spear the animal.

Mr Bowmar, a former javelin thrower, launches the spear and hits the bear, reacting in celebratory disbelief – at one point brought to tears – by the action.

(Bowmar Bowhunting/Youtube
(Bowmar Bowhunting/Youtube (Bowmar Bowhunting/Youtube)

“He’s going down; I drilled him perfect,” he said in the video. “I just did something I don’t think anybody in the world has ever done – and that was spear a bear on the ground, on film. And I smoked him.”

But critics of the video are calling the hunt “unethical” and accuse Mr Bowman of hunting for entertainment.

The provincial government condemned the video and said it was planning to ban spear hunting later this year.

“The type of archaic hunting seen in the recently posted video of a hunter spearing a black bear, allegedly in Alberta, is unacceptable,” Alberta’s Ministry of Environment and Parks said in a statement.

“Work is well under way to update Alberta’s hunting regulations. We will introduce a ban on spear hunting this fall as part of those updated regulations.”

Roland Lines, communications manager of Alberta’s SPCA, told the Toronto Star that Mr Bowmar “seems to have viewed the hunt as an opportunity for entertainment. That’s what’s most disturbing.”

In a blog post to the the US Humane Society website, Wayne Pacelle called the hunt “stunningly unethical”.

“He’s so deeply disconnected from the suffering of an innocent creature that he felt free to yell and prance with joy as the life was spilling out of this innocent animal,” he wrote.

However, Mr Bowmar sees things a lot differently.

“First and foremost, spear hunting gives the animal the greatest chance of escape. The bear I speared only ran 60 yards and died immediately. That’s as humane and ethical as one could get in a hunting situation on big game animals,” he told Global News.

“Trust me, no one cares more about these animals more than us hunters, especially me.”

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